The 24th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic is moving its bird watching competition to the fall due to the public health crisis.
For the first time ever, the spring event will be held from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31. These new dates coincide with the fall migration, allowing birders and nature lovers to take part in the competition.
The deadline to enter is Sept. 14. Teams can enter one or several categories lasting from a morning of birding to 24 hours of competition during this year's Birding Classic.
At last year's event, more than 130 teams with 850 participants throughout Texas recorded 411 bird species during regional and statewide tournaments, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.
"Last year's participation was the highest in the past decade," GTBC director Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said. "The Classic is a perfect fit for naturalists, birders, communities, nature centers, bird clubs and school groups. There is something for everyone, regardless of bird watching experience, age, ability or location. We postponed our traditional spring event due to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but that gave us a chance to create a really special once-in-a-lifetime Fall Birding Classic!"
At this year's competition, participants can choose to compete in two new categories: the "Dispersed Flock" team and the "Intact Flock."
"Dispersed Flock" teams can consist of team members located anywhere in Texas. Participants can bird by bike, on foot, in a kayak, or on other non-motorized forms of transport.
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In the "Intact Flock" category, families and friends can team up to compete from wherever they are quarantining. This category does not involve a significant amount of travel and includes mixed-age teams so kids, teens, and adults can be on a team together.
Participating teams can choose from a variety of tournament categories for this fall event, including "The Expanded Big Sit." Due to the pandemic, the size of the "Big Sit" circle has increased to a 50-foot diameter to allow for plenty of space to social distance.
To register online, learn the rules, and find out tournament details, visit www.BirdingClassic.org. Registration fees and sponsorship dollars go toward conservation grants benefiting birding, nature tourism, and habitat restoration and enhancement projects throughout Texas.